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Top 5 foods to de-stress with

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Can the candy and bin the biscuits – when deadlines loom and you need a comforting crunch there are healthy options. Here are our top five contenders.

1. Chocolate
Make sure you opt for dark chocolate (one with 70% cocoa solids or above), which is the lowest in sugar. Dark chocolate contains more flavonoids (an important antioxidant for preventing diseases) than five apples. A 2.5cm square is all you need to sate the appetite and put you in a better frame of mind. This sweet treat also contains phenylethylamine, a compound similar to endorphins – which put you in a happier mood.

2. Vegetables and dip
Instead of chips and a full fat dip, reach for crunchy crudités like broccoli, carrots, celery and peppers. Broccoli alone is brimming with B vitamins, including folic acid, which helps relieve stress, panic and anxiety.

Add a handful of chopped mint to natural yogurt for a fresh dipping sauce. Or combine a chopped chilli with chopped tomatoes and onions, a handful of chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime for a spicy salsa.

The act of crunching through this healthy snack may also help to put paid to any pent up pressure!

3. Oranges
When you're stressed your adrenal glands produce cortisol, which lowers the immune system and breaks down muscle tissue to get energy. The vitamin C in oranges has been found to restore cortisol levels to normal and even the smell of its citrusy zest will give you a lift.

Eating oranges at work might also help you with your performance. Research has shown that people who took 1000 mg of vitamin C before making a speech had lower levels of cortisol than those that didn't.

4. Turkey salad
The tryptophan in turkey gives a calming effect, which makes it a good snack for stressful times. Pair it with crunchy lettuce, slices of sharp green apple and a handful of walnuts for a satisfying snack. If you're vegetarian, a portion of edamame beans will have the same effect.

5. Bananas
Easy to eat and instantly satisfying, bananas are a good source of potassium which helps to regulate blood pressure, which can rise in times of pressure. This is an ideal snack at any time of the day – to keep stress at bay.

Even better, slice a banana and freeze it overnight for a delicious and healthy alternative to ice cream.
Always pick a snack that will fill you up – like half an avocado or a handful of nuts. As Dr Drew Ramsay, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and author of The Happiness Diet told The Huffington Post, nothing stresses the brain more than thinking it is running low on nourishment.

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